However, we don’t often think about the people who feel called to join us as volunteers, serving in communities we walk alongside. On reflection, I realize that perhaps our mission would be better titled “Changing Stories,” as it seems those who serve find their stories changed too.
For the last month, we have been working with three community schools in Western Zambia that are all facing a terrible scarcity of water. Students walk up to 15 km a day with a gallon of water to go to school; the underground water is dangerously saline; the nearest surface water sources dry up in August; and in other months these same sources are home to a significant population of crocodiles, making the task of collecting water a very perilous one.
In order to try to overcome this challenge, two volunteers have been working with the communities of Adonsi, Alibuzwe, and Aibelilwe in Western Zambia to install rainwater collection and storage systems at each school. Here is a reflection of one of the volunteers that details how this experience has changed his perspective, how it has changed his story.
Hi, my name is Peter Prime. I am a farmer from the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia and for most of August 2017 I have been in Mwandi village in Western Zambia. Here in Mwandi, I am working with Ian Mountford from England. Together we have been working on a World Renew project to provide water to three schools in the Mwandi district which currently have no access to suitable drinking water for much of the year.
We will see one school completed in our time here.This school is called Adonsi and is 2 hours from Mwandi by vehicle. It is a challenging, bumpy ride by any standards — transporting large, bulky building materials can take an entire day.
Attaching fascia and gutters to buildings not designed for water harvesting has been another challenge. After some delay in delivery of materials for these projects, Ian and I decided — or most likely God decided — that we could not complete the work on all three schools in our time here. We have since then taken on two staff partners, Kalaluka and Morris, with whom we have been working through all the aspects of completing fascia, gutters, downpipes, tanks, and fittings on the remaining schools.
It has been very rewarding for us to see Kalaluka and Morris adapt to this challenge and learn new skills. We would show them how to do one side of a building and then get them to do the other side of the building, using local community members who were also keen to learn new skills as their labourers. It was exciting and pleasing to see how quickly they picked things up! The reason I said this was God’s decision earlier is that initially Ian and I were disappointed we would not be able to complete the projects. But how much better has it turned out that the skills and oversight needed to complete the other projects remains here in western Zambia instead of departing with us.
In our world, we take so much for granted. When our first gutter was completed, and the Adonsi community members saw the water fall from the roof and down the gutters, they cheered, clapped, and laughed with great joy. They could see the potential of this! Some have even enquired about the cost to do this to their own buildings. Sheer joy for both them and us.
What struck me about the above testimony is how so many different stories on so many different levels have been changed. The change in the child not having to carry water on her head for miles, or risk death to simply collect water. The change in Ian and Peter’s stories of not just being givers, but teachers too, and receiving the gift of joy, delight, and celebration from communities in return. The change in young men like Morris and Kalaluka who have learned new skills and have been empowered. The story of communities that have come together to support and overcome a challenge that until now appeared insurmountable. Finally, the story of the donor who made all this possible through an incredibly generous estate gift. That single act of generosity changed so many stories. To God be the Glory.
Mike Bos: A Man Who Changed Lives
Mike Bos loved biking, soccer, snowboarding, and travelling. He was a family guy loved by his mother Jannette, his late father Bert, and his four brothers. Mike spent the first ten years of his life on farms in Blyth and Drayton, and then moved Cambridge, Ontario. All of his adult life he worked in construction, where he was valued for his work ethic. Mike passed away after a brief illness on September 5, 2015 at the age of 48. His mother; brothers Bill, Dave, Rick, and Jamie; nephews Curtis and Joel; and nieces Laura and Hannah wanted to honour Mike in a way that would reflect his interests and values. They choose to donate gifts they received from Mike’s estate to pay for a water collection system for two schools in the Mwandi district of Western Zambia.
Jannette Bos heard from Peter Timmerman, a good friend of Mike and former World Renew Southern Africa Team Leader, about the drought in this region caused by El Nino and the food assistance that World Renew was providing to people whose crops had failed. Peter also told Jannette about the plan to build community gardens at the schools in Mwandi to supplement the school feeding program and serve as demonstration plots for more drought resistant crops like cassava. Given the scarcity of water in the area, World Renew staff in Zambia proposed installing gutters on some of the schools to funnel rain from school roofs during the rainy season into water collection tanks for drinking and garden irrigation. Janette and her family decided that this was just the kind of project that Mike would appreciate.
Mike changed the lives of the people who knew him for the better. His family’s gift to World Renew’s work in Zambia will change the lives of more. As is true with so many gifts given in God’s name, the impact of this gift will be felt by many and continue to give far beyond the sphere of Mike’s life.
World Renew Zambia